My family and I usually pick one weekend out of the summer to take a day trip to an area zoo. More often than not, it’s a trip to coal valley in Illinois to check out the Niabi Zoo! From feeding giraffes to enjoying the carousel, there is loads to do and a great place to spend a day out with the family. A quick 90 minute drive from Dubuque down 61 is all it takes. And this just so happens to be opening weekend at Niabi Zoo.

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Opening Day was Monday, April 18th and Niabi has announced several changes for the new season. A social media post states,

“Guests will notice a number of changes this season; new animal family members and exciting new projects.  Several other changes include far fewer Covid related restrictions. Guest are no longer required to wear masks in most areas including train and carousel rides. “We also no longer have restrictions on the number of people we can allow into the park. Hours of operation will also return to the pre-Covid schedule, with the zoo daily hours; from 10 -5pm (last entry at 4).”

Niabi will continue its use of online ticket sales, but you will also offer purchase of tickets at the gate. There will be a discount available for those purchasing their tickets online. As with many businesses around the country, we have found it challenging to fill all of our staff positions this season. Some services may be limited for a few weeks. Please visit our website for a complete list of visitor guidelines, and note that masks will still be required, or visitation limited in several areas.

The most exciting news however involves our growing animal programs!  Several big projects are going to be underway this year, including work on a new prairie dog habitat and a new space for African painted dogs.

There are also some exciting new additions to the zoo! Nyura and Antin, our Amur leopard cubs were born earlier this year and will make their debut later this spring, along with several other fun suprises to be announced in coming weeks.”

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Niabi Zoo is a public Zoological Park serving the Quad Cities Area and one of six facilities owned and operated by the Rock Island County Forest Preserve District. Niabi Zoo is open for general admission April–October annually and offers robust education and outreach programs year-round.

Speaking of the leopards; some awesome youtube videos have been posted featuring them check them out below.

And now everyone wants a baby leopard. Seriously cute. Of course there are a lot of other awesome videos like Kito the Climber; btw he is a rhino

Find more updates and enjoy a little nature at www.niabizoo.com and on their social media page. Its just a short trip away for a day of fun at Niabi Zoo.

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LOOK: Stunning animal photos from around the world

From grazing Tibetan antelope to migrating monarch butterflies, these 50 photos of wildlife around the world capture the staggering grace of the animal kingdom. The forthcoming gallery runs sequentially from air to land to water, and focuses on birds, land mammals, aquatic life, and insects as they work in pairs or groups, or sometimes all on their own.